Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

the letter!--Abhorred villain! Unnatural, de tefted, brutish villain! worse than brutish !-Go, firrah, feek him; I'll apprehend him :-Abomin. able villain!-Where is he?

Edm. I do not well know, my lord. If it fhall please you to fufpend your indignation against my brother, 'till you can derive from him better teftimony of his intent, you should run a certain courfe; where, if you violently proceed against him, mistaking his purpose, it would make a great gap in your own honour, and shake in pieces the heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down my life for him, that he hath writ this to feel my affection to your honour, and to no other pretence 3 of dan

Glo. Think you so?

ter from my brother, that I have not all o'er-read; 15 ger.
and for fo much as I have perus'd, I find it not fit
for your overlooking.

Glo. Give me the letter, fir.

Edm. I fhall offend, either to detain or give it.

Edm. If your honour judge it meet, I will place you where you shall hear us confer of this, and by an auricular affurance have your fatisfaction; and

The contents, as in part I understand them, are to 20 that without anyfurther delaythan this very evening.


Gla. Let's fee, let's fee.

Edm. I hope, for my brother's juftification, he wrote this but as an affay or taste of my virtue.

Glo. reads.] "This policy, and reverence of 25 แ age, makes the world bitter to the beft of our "times; keeps our fortunes from us, 'till our old"nefs cannot relish them. I begin to find an idle " and fond 2 bondage in the oppreffion of aged ty"ranny; who sways, not as it hath power, but 30 66 as it is fuffered. Come to me, that of this I may "speak more. If our father would fleep 'till I "wak'd him, you should enjoy half his revenue "for ever, and live the beloved of your brother, "Edgar"-Hum--Confpiracy!--"Sleep, 'till I wak'd 35 "him!---you shall enjoy half his revenue !"

My fon Edgar! Had he a hand to write this? a heart and brain to breed it in ?---When came this to you? Who brought it?

Edm. It was not brought me, my lord, there's the cunning of it; I found it thrown in at the cafement of my closet.

Glo. You know the character to be your brothers?

Glo. He cannot be such a monster.

Edm. Nor is not, fure.

Glo. To his father, that fo tenderly and entirely loves him.-Heaven and earth!-Edmund, feek him out; wind me into him, I pray you: frame the bufinefs after your own wifdom: I would unftate myself, to be in a due refolution 4.

[ocr errors]

Edm. I will feek him, fir, presently; convey the business as I fhall find means, and acquaint you withal.

Glo. Thefe late eclipfes in the fun and moon portend no good to us: Though the wisdom of nature can reafon it thus and thus, yet nature finds itfelf fcourg'd by the sequent effects ; love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide: in cities, mutinies; in countries, difcord; in palaces, treafon; and the bond crack'd 'twixt fon and father. This villain of mine comes under the prediction; there's fon against father: the king falls from bias of na40ture; there's father against child. We have feen the beft of our time: Machinations, hollownefs, treachery, and all ruinous disorders, follow us difquietly to our graves!Find out this villain, Edmund: it fhal! lofe thee nothing; do it carefully:

Edm. If the matter were good, my lord, I durft 45 fwear it were his; but, in refpect of that, I would fain think it were not.

Glo. It is his.

Edm. It is his hand, my lord; but I hope, his

-And the noble and true-hearted Kent banish'd! his offence, honesty!Strange! strange! [Exit. Edm. This is the excellent foppery of the world! that, when we are fick in fortune, (often the furfeit of our own behaviour) we make guilty of our

heart is not in the contents. [this bufinefs? 50 difafters, the fun, the moon, and the ftars: as if

Gio. Hath he never heretofore founded you in Edm. Never, my lord: But I have often heard him maintain it to be fit, that, fons at perfect age, and father's declining, the father should be as ward to the fon, and the fon manage his revenue. Glo. O villain, villain !--- His very opinion in

we were villains, by neceffity; fools, by heavenly compulfion; knaves, thieves, and treachers, by fpherical predominance; drunkards, lyars, and adulterers, by an enforc'd obedience of planetary 55 influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on: An admirable evasion of whore

4 The

1 To do upon the gad, is, to act by the fudden stimulation of caprice, as cattle run madding when they are stung by the gad-fly. 2 i. e. weak and foolish. 3 Pretence is defign, purpose. meaning is, according to Dr. Johnson, Do you frame the business, who can act with lefs emotion; I would unftate myself; it would in me be a departure from the paternal character, to be in a due refolution, to be fettled and composed on such an occafion. Mr. Steevens comments on this passage thus: "Edgar has been reprefented as wishing to poffefs his father's fortune, 'i. e. to unflate him; and therefore his father fays, he would unftate himself to be fufficiently refolved to punish him. To enftate is to confer a fortune. 5 To convey here means to manage artfully. That is, though natural philofophy can give account

of eclipfes, yet we feel their confequences.

[blocks in formation]

mafter man, to lay his goatifh difpofition to the
charge of a star! My father compounded with
my mother under the dragon's tail; and my nati-
vity was under urfa major; fo that it follows, I
am rough and lecherous.-Tut, I should have been 5
that I am, had the maidenlieft ftar in the firma-
ment twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar-
Enter Edgar.

That he fufpects none; on whofe foolish honefty
My practices ride easy !—I see the business
Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit:
All with me's meet, that I can fashion fit. [Exit.

The Duke of Albany's Palace.

Enter Goneril, and Steward.

Gon. Did my father strike my gentleman for

and pat he comes, like the catastrophe of the old
comedy. My cue is villainous melancholy, with a 10 chiding of his fool?
figh like Tom o' Bedlam.-O, thefe eclipfes do
portend thefe divifions! fa, fol, la, mi-

Edg. How now, brother Edmund? What ferious contemplation are you in?

Edm. I am thinking, brother, of a prediction 115 read this other day, what should follow these eclipfes.

Edg. Do you bufy yourself with that?

Edm. I promife you, the effects he writes of, fucceed unhappily; as of unnaturalness between 20 the child and the parent; death, dearth, diffolutions of ancient amities, divifions in ftate, menaces and maledictions against king and nobles; needlefs diffidences, banishment of friends, diffipation of cohorts, nuptial breaches, and I know not what. 25 Edg. How long have you been a sectary aftronomical?

Edm. Come, come; when faw you my father laft?

Edg. Why, the night gone by.
Edm. Spake you with him?
Edg. Ay, two hours together.

Edm. Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in him, by word or countenance?

Edg. None at all.

Stew. Ay, madam.


Gon. By day and night! he wrongs me; every
He flashes into one grofs crime or other,
That fets us all at odds: I'll not endure it :
His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids ☛
On every trifle: When he returns from hunting,
I will not fpeak with him: fay, I am fick :
If you come flack of former services,
You fhall do well; the fault of it I'll answer.
Stew. He's coming, madam; I hear him.
[Horas within.
Gon. Put on what weary negligence you please,
You and your fellows; I'd have it come to question:
If he diflike it, let him to my fifter,
Whofe mind and mine, I know, in that are one,
Not to be over-rul'd. Idle old man,
That ftill would manage those authorities
That he hath given away !-Now, by my life,
Old fools are babes again; and must be us'd

30 With checks as flatteries when they are seen abus'd'.
Remember what I have faid.

Stew. Very well, madam.

Gon. And let his knights have colder looks

among you;

[fo: 35 What grows of it, no matter; advise your fellows I would breed from hence occafions, and I shall, That I may speak :-I'll write straight to my fifter,

Edm. Bethink yourself, wherein you may have offended him: and at my entreaty, forbear his prefence, until fome little time hath qualified the heat of his difpleasure; which at this inftant fo rageth in him, that with the mifchief of your perfon it 40 would fcarcely allay.

Edg. Some villain hath done me wrong. Edm. That's my fear. I pray you, have a continent forbearance, 'till the speed of his rage goes flower; and, as I fay, retire with me to my lodg-45 ing, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my lord fpeak: Pray you, go; there's my key:-It| you do ftir abroad, go arm'd.

Edg. Arm'd, brother!

Edm. Brother, I advife you to the beft; go 50 arm'd; I am no honest man, if there be any good meaning towards you: I have told you what I have| fcen and heard, but faintly; nothing like the image and horror of it: Pray you, away. Edg. Shall I hear from you anon? Edm. I do ferve you in this business.

[Exit Edgar.

A credulous father, and a brother noble,
Whofe nature is fo far from doing harms,


[blocks in formation]

The fenfe, according to Dr. Johnfon, is this: " Old men must be treated with checks, when as they are feen to be deceived with flatteries: or, when they are weak enough to be seen abused by flatteries, they are then weak enough to be ujed with cheeks. There is a play of the words used and abused. To abuse is, in our author, very frequently the fame as to deceive." 2 That is, If i can change my fpeech as well as I have changed my dress. To diffuje speech fignifies to disorder it, and so to disguise it,


Lear. What doft thou profefs? What would't thou with us?

Kent. I do profefs to be no less than I feem; to serve him truly, that will put me in trust; to love him that is honeft; to converse with him that is wife, and fays little; to fear judgment; to fight,| when I cannot choose; and to eat no fish 2.

Lear. What art thou?

Kent. A very honeft-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king.

Lear. If thou be as poor for a fubject as he is for a king, thou art poor enough. What would'ft| thou?

Kent. Service.

Lear. Whom would'st thou serve ?
Kent. You.

Lear. Doft thou know me, fellow?

Kent. No, fir; but you have that in your countenance, which I would fain call mafter.

Lear. What's that?

Kent. Authority.

Lear. What fervices can't thou do?

Kent. I can keep honeft counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in telling it, and deliver a plain

|appears, as well in the general dependants, as in the duke himself also, and your daughter.

Lear. Ha! fay'st thou so?

Knight. I befeech you, pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken; for my duty cannot be filent, when I think your highnefs is wrong'd.

Lear. Thou but remember'ft me of mine own conception: I have perceived a most faint neglect of late; which I have rather blamed as mine own Icjealous ouriosity, than as a very pretence 3 and purpofe of unkindness: I will look further into t.e But where's my fool? I have not feen him these two days.

Knight. Since my young lady's going into France, 15 fir, the fool hath much pin'd away.

Lear. No more of that; I have noted it well.—
Go you, and tell my daughter I would speak with
her.-Go you, call hither my fool.-
Re-enter Steward.

200, you fir, you fir, come you hither: Who am I,
Stew. My lady's father.
Lear. My lady's father! my lord's knave: you
whorefon dog! you flave! you cur !

Stew. I am none of these, my lord; I befeech

message bluntly: that which ordinary men are fit 25 you, pardon me.
for, I am qualify'd in; and the best of me is dili-

Lear. How old art thou?

Kent. Not fo young, fir, to love a woman for finging; nor fo old, to dote on her for any thing:30 I have years on my back forty-eight.

Lear. Follow me; thou shalt ferve me, if I like thee no worfe after dinner: I will not part from thee yet.-Dinner, ho, dinner!-Where's

Lear. Do you bandy looks with me, you rafcal?

[Striking bim.

Ster. I'll not be ftruck, my lord. Kent. Nor tript neither; you base foot ball [Tripping up his beeis. Lear. I thank thee, fellow; thou ferv'ft me, and I'll love thee.


Kent. Come, fir, arife, away; I'll teach you differences; away, away: If you will measure

my knave? my fool? Go you, and call my fool 35 your lubber's length again, tarry: but away: go hither: to: Have you wisdom? fo.

[blocks in formation]

Lear. What fays the fellow there?-Call the 40 clotpole back. Where's my fool, ho ?—I think the world's afleep.How now? where's that mungrel?

Knight. He fays, my lord, your daughter is not well.

Lear. Why came not the flave back to me, when I call'd him?

Knight. Sir, he anfwer'd me in the roundeft manner, he would not.

Lear. He would not!

Knight. My lord, I know not what the matter is; but, to my judgment, your highness is not entertain'd with that ceremonious affection as you were wont; there's a great abatement of kindness


[Pufbes the Steward out. Lear. Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee: there's earnest of thy fervice. [Giving Kent money. Enter Fool.

Fool. Let me hire him too;-Here's my cox-
[Giving Kent bis cap.
Lear. How now, my pretty knave? how doft

Fool. Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.
Kent. Why, fool?

Fol. Why, for taking one's part that is out of favour: Nay, an thou can'ft not fmile as the wind fits, thou'lt catch cold shortly: There, take my 50 coxcomb+: Why, this fellow has banish'd two of his daughters, and did the third a blessing against his will; if thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb.How now, nuncle? 'Would I had two coxcombs 5, and two daughters!

To converfe fignifies immediately and properly to keep company, not to difcourfe or talk. His meaning is, that he chufes for his companions men of referve and caution; men who are no tattlers nor tale-bearers. 2 In Queen Elizabeth's time, the Papifts were esteemed, and with good reason, enemies to the government. Hence the proverbial phrase of, He's an boneft man, and eats no fish; to fignify he's a friend to the government, and a Proteftant; the eating fish, on a religious account, being then esteemed fuch a badge of popery, that when it was enjoin'd for a season by act of parliament, for the encouragement of the fish-towns, it was thought neceffary to declare the reafon; hence it was called Cecil's faft. 3 Pretence for defign. 4 Meaning his cap, called fo, because on the top of the fool or jefter's cap was fewed a piece of red cloth, refembling the comb of a cock. was used to denote a vain, conceited, meddling fellow. 5 Two fools caps, to mark double folly in the man that gives all to his daughters.


The word, afterwards, intended, as it feems,


[blocks in formation]

Lear. What two crowns fhall they be?

Fool. Why, after I have cut the egg i' the middle, and eat up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou cloveft thy crown i' the middle, and gaveft away both parts, thou boreft thine afs on thy back over the dirt: Thou had it little wit in thy bald crown, when thou gavest thy golden one away. If I fpeak like myself in this, let him be whipp'd that first finds it fo. Fools ne'er bad lefs grace in a year 5; For wife men are grown foppish; And know not how their wits to wear, Their manners are fo apifb.


Lear. When were you wont to be fo full of 15 fongs, firrah?


Fool. Then it is like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer; you gave me nothing for't:Can you 25 make no use of nothing, nuncle?

Lear. Why, no, boy; nothing can be made out of nothing.

Fool. Pr'ythee, tell him, fo much the rent of his land comes to; he will not believe a fool.

Lear. A bitter fool!

[To Kent.

Fool. Doft thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a fweet fool? Lear. No, lad, teach me.

Fool. That lord, that counfell'd thee

To give away thy land,

Come place him here by me,

Or do thou for him stand:
The fweet and bitter fool

Will presently appear:
The one in motley here,

The other found out there.

Lear. Doft thou call me fool, boy?

Fool. All thy other titles thou haft given away;| that thou waft born with.

Fool. I have used it, nuncle, ever fince thou mad'ft thy daughters thy mothers: for when thou gav'ft them the rod, and putt'ft down thine own breeches,

Then they for sudden joy did weep,
And I for forrow fung,

That fuch a king fhould play bo-peep,

And go the fouls among.


Pr'ythee, nuncle, keep a school-mafter that can teach thy fool to lie; I would fain learn to lie.

Lear. If you lie, firrah, we'll have you whipt. Fool. I marvel, what kin thou and thy daughters are: they'll have me whipt for speaking true, thou'lt have me whipt for lying; and, fometimes, 301 am whipt for holding my peace. I had rather be any kind of thing, than a fool: and yet I would not be thee, nuncle; thou haft pared thy wit o' both fides, and left nothing in the middle: Here comes one of the parings.


Enter Goneril.

Lear. How now, daughter? what makes that frontlet " on?

Methinks, you are too much of late i' the frown.

Fool. Thou waft a pretty fellow, when thou 40 had'ft no need to care for her frowning; now thou art an O without a figure: I am better than thou art now; I am a fool, thou art nothing.Yes, forfooth, I will hold my tongue; [To Goneril.] fo your face bids me, though you fay nothing. 45 Mum, mum,

Kent. This is not altogether fool, my lord. Fool. No, 'faith, lords and great men will not let me; if I had a monopoly on't, they would have 50 part on't 4: and ladies too, they will not let me have all fool to myfelf; they'll be snatching.Give me an egg, nuncle, and I'll give thee two


He that keeps nor cruft nor crum,
Weary of all, fhall want fome.-

That's a fheal'd peascod 7.

[Pointing to Lear. Gon. Not only, fir, this your all-licens'd fool, But other of your infolent retinue

Do hourly carp and quarrel; breaking forth
In rank and not-to-be-endured riots. Sir,

I had thought, by making this well known unto you,
To have found a fafe redrefs; but now grow fearful,

1 Brach is a bitch of the hunting-kind. 2 That is, do not lend all that thou baft. To ere, in old English, is to poffefs. 3 To trow, is an old word which fignifies to believe. 4 A fatire on the gross abufes of monopolies at that time; and the corruption and avarice of the courtiers, who commonly went shares with the patentee. Monopolies were in Shakspeare's time the common objects of fatire. 5 The meaning is, There never was a time when fools were lefs in favour; and the reafon is, that they were never so little wanted, for wife men now fupply their place. Both the quarto editions read-efs wit for lefs grace. 6 Lear alludes to the frontier, which was anciently part of a woman's drefs. 7 i. e. now a mere hufk, which contains nothing.


[ocr errors]

By what yourself too late have spoke and done,
That you protect this courfe, and put it on
By your allowance; which if you should, the fault
Would not 'fcape cenfure, nor the redreffes fleep;
Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,
Might in their working do you that offence,
Which elfe were shame, that then neceffity
Will call difcreet proceeding.

Fool. For you trow, nuncle,

The hedge-fparrow fed the cuckoo fo long,
That it had its head bit off by its young.

So, out went the candle, and we were left darkling.
Lear. Are you our daughter?

Gon. Come, fir,

I would, you would make use of that good wisdom
Whereof I know you are fraught; and put away
These difpofitions, which of late transform you
From what you rightly are.

Fool. May not an afs know when the cart draws the horse?-Whoop, Jug! I love thee 2.

Lear. Does any here know me?-Why this is not Lear:


Does Lear walk thus? fpeak thus ?-Where are his
Either his notion weakens, or his difcernings
Are lethargy'd-Ha! waking?-'Tis not fo.-
Who is it that can tell me who I am?-Lear's

I would learn that; for by the marks

Of fov'reignty, of knowledge, and of reason,
I should be false persuaded I had daughters.-
Your name, fair gentlewoman?

Gon. Come, fir,

This admiration is much o' the favour

Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
To understand my purposes aright:

As you are old and reverend, you should be wife:
Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires ;
Men fo disorder'd, fo debauch'd and bold,
That this our court, infected with their manners,
Shews like a riotous inn: epicurism and lust
Make it more like a tavern, or a brothel,

Than a grac'd palace 3. The fhame itself doth fpeak
For inftant remedy: Be then defir'd

By her, that else will take the thing she begs,
A little to difquantity your train;
And the remainder, that shall still depend 4,
To be fuch men as may befort your age,
And know themselves and you.

Lear. Darkness and devils!

Saddle my horfes; call my train together.-
Degenerate baftard! I'll not trouble thee;
Yet have I left a daughter.



Gon. You strike my people; and your disorder'd Make fervants of their betters.

Enter Albany.

Lear. Woe, that too late repents,-O, fir, are you come ?

Is it your will? speak, fir.-Prepare my horses.— [To Albany.

Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend,

More hideous, when thou shew'ft thee in a child, 5 Than the fea-monster 5 !

Alb. Pray, fir, be patient.

Lear. Detefted kite! thou lieft:

[To Goneril.

My train are men of choice and rarest parts,
That all particulars of duty know;

10 And in the most exact regard fupport
The worships of their name.-O most small fault,
How ugly didst thou in Cordelia fhew! [nature
Which, like an engine 6, wrench'd by frame of
From the fixt place, drew from my heart all love,
15 And added to the gail. O Lear, Lear, Lear!
Beat at this gate, that let thy folly in,

[Striking bis bead. And thy dear judgment out!-Go, go, my people. Alb. My lord, I am guiltlefs, as I am ignorant 20 Of what hath mov'd you.

Lear. It may be so, my lord.

Hear, nature! hear; dear goddefs, hear!
Sufpend thy purpose, if thou didst intend
To make this creature fruitful!
25 Into her womb convey fterelity;

Dry up in her the organs of increase ;
And from her derogate 7 body never spring
A babe to honour her! If the must teem,
Create her child of fpleen; that it may live,
30 And be a thwart difnatur'd torment to her!
Let it ftamp wrinkles in her brow of youth;
With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks;
Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
To laughter and contempt; that the may feel
35 How fharper than a ferpent's tooth it is

To have a thankless child !—Away, away! [Exit.
Alb. Now, gods, that we adore, whereof comes

[blocks in formation]

That thou haft power to shake my manhood thus :
[To Goneril.
That thefe hot tears, which break from me perforce,
Should make thee worth them.-Blasts and fogs
upon thee!

The untented 10 woundings of a father's curfe
55 Pierce every sense about thee !-Old fond eyes,
Beweep this caufe again, I'll pluck you out;
And caft you, with the waters that you lose,

1 i. e. promote, push it forward. 2 Mr. Steevens has been informed, that this is a quotation from the burden of an old fong. 3 A palace grac'd by the presence of a sovereign. 4 Depend, for continue in fervice. 5 Mr. Upton obferves, that the sea-monster is the Hippopotamus, the hieroglyphical Symbol of impiety and ingratitude. Sandys, in his Travels, fays" that he killeth his fire, and ravifheth his own dam." By an engine is meant the rack. 7 Derogate here means degraded, blafted. 8 Difnatur'd is wanting in natural affection. 9 i. e. falling tears. 10 Untented wounds, means wounds in their worst ftate, not having a tent in them to digest them.



« PreviousContinue »